Newest 'Poe Toaster' to be revealed at Poe birthday celebration this month
By Brittany Britto
The Baltimore Sun|
Jan 08, 2016 | 10:27 AM
The tradition of the "Poe Toaster," who for decades would leave a rose at Edgar Allan Poe's grave, will be revived this month. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun Video)
Baltimore's mysterious new “Poe Toaster” will become at least slightly less of a mystery this month. He will make his first appearance at a birthday celebration for Edgar Allan Poe hosted by the Maryland Historical Society and Westminster Hall & Burying Ground, reviving a tradition that began in the 1940s.
For decades, a mysterious individual visited Poe’s gravesite on the poet’s birthday, Jan. 19, leaving behind three roses and a bottle of cognac. But the elusive visitor, eventually nicknamed “Poe Toaster,” hasn't been spotted since 2009.
Last year, the historical society and Westminster Hall teamed up with Poe Baltimore and theater show "Mesmeric Revelations! of Edgar Allan Poe," to bring the tradition back, calling on artists to compete to become the poetry legend’s newest “Poe Toaster."
In November, more than 100 Poe enthusiasts gathered at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore to watch as the finalists anonymously performed their tributes to Poe, who lived in the city for more than a decade until his death in 1849. Audience members cast their votes for the best “Poe Toaster” through a secret ballot, and Jan. 16 will be the big reveal.
The Edgar Allan Poe Birthday Observance, honoring the poet legend’s work and life in Baltimore, will be held at 3 p.m. at Poe's gravesite.
Poe House* curator emeritus Jeff Jerome will host the festivities, kicking off with readings from costumed actors of Poe’s most celebrated works, including “The Cask of Amontillado,” "Annabel Lee," "Eldorado" and “The Conqueror Worm.” Guests will also hear tributes to the poet dating back to 1934 from countries around the globe, including Persia, Siam and Chile.
Finally, the event will conclude with the long-anticipated appearance of the new "Poe Toaster," which will be his first and only publicly accessible appearance, followed by the great and mysterious tradition — a "toast" at the Poe monument.
* A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Jerome's affiliation.